This weekend saw the commemoration of the start of the First Battle of Passchendaele 100 years ago. The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 was a long, arduous and murderous affair fought on the Western Front between July and November.

Officially the Third Battle of Ypres or as it became known ‘The Battle of Mud’; early progress ground to an almost standstill in a clinging deep quagmire of mud caused by heavy rain, compounded by a drainage systems that had been smashed to pieces by the bombardment that had preceded the attack. The battle was fought for control of the land to the south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres; however the horror which followed would take lives not just from battle, but drowning in the churned up morass that was once fields. The human cost was immense and while many different assessments have been made, it's likely there were around 500,000 casualties across both sides. The losses were felt in almost every town and village in the UK and throughout what was then the British Empire. [1]

Whilst researching my own family history, I discovered that my Great Uncle George was one of the fallen.  Corporal George Joseph Hocking was born on 30 April 1897 in New Cross, London.  He was the eldest of George Arthur Thomas and Harriet Maria Hocking.  His younger siblings were Albert, Violet, Percy, Edward and Elsie.  Prior to 1915, the family moved from Shadwell, London to 72 Henley Road, Ilford. George enlisted with 20th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1915 and was subsequently sent to France.  George was injured at the Battle of Passchendaele and died of his wounds on 12 October 1917.  He was buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

As we are in the centenary years of the First World War, do you wonder if you have a relative who served and possibly died in it or in World War 2? I can research this for you and, where possible provide any military records that may be available.  I am also able to offer Battlefield Tours to the area and (if applicable) the cemetery where your ancestor may be buried.  Contact me as soon as possible at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

 

 

[1] https://www.everyoneremembered.org/passchendaele 31/07/2017

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